UCSD Alumni


We Are Tritons - Ronnie Das '09


Ronnie Das wanted people and businesses to embrace the green lifestyle as he has, but needed a way to spread the word more effectively. So he came up with a local TV show he hosts and produces called How Can I Help?, which showcases San Diego businesses, industries, farms, and non-profit groups making a difference by educating, implementing, or currently using green and sustainable practices. He’s found that by inspiring youth to consider emerging environmental industries to find successful careers, they can become leaders in sustainability.


Q: What was your favorite subject outside of your major at UC San Diego?
I began college thinking of being a doctor because I enjoyed biology, but in actuality really just enjoyed trivia. If evolution is slow and all the answers are relatively the same, stating an answer in the form of a question was pretty much what I thought a doctor had to do. Unfortunately, they also had to do organic chemistry which is not my strong suit.

I graduated with a B.A. in environmental systems/environmental policy because I liked the idea of working outside. At one point was also considering sociology because talking to people is a lot fun, but couldn't figure out how to get paid for having that degree. So I guess somewhere in those three subjects was my favorite subject outside my major.

Q: What course or faculty made the biggest impression on you?
If you didn't read the course description, HISC104 Western Environmental History sounded like it would be about the politics of Western Europe and the United States, but “San Diego has a unique coastal sage scrub

Ronnie Das

College: Sixth

Major: Environmental Systems

Career: Eco TV Producer and Host

Fun Fact: He has planted over 1 million seeds, plants, and trees in San Diego


chaparral ecosystem with an integration from the North Sonoma Desert which stretches from Mexico and allows for us to have the Cholla Cactus in the East County” is probably not the first sentence you would hear if that were the case. It was a rough start, but Professor Hineline was memorable, made the information entertaining and kept me informed and wanting to learn more. Also, the next day I had an interview with the City of San Diego Environmental Services Department at the Miramar Native Plant Nursery for my first boss, Burton Ewert, whose first question was “What do you know about the diverse habitats in San Diego?”

It was a class and a career in a field I may not have considered.

Q: What was your favorite place to hang out?
UCSD is like no other place on the planet so take time to walk around and really enjoy the architecture and environment. The ecological reserves (thank you Paul Dayton and David Holway), amazing ocean views and freshman year in 708 at Sixth College was one of the best experiences of my life (thanks Olga and Marina). I think the open courtyard just makes it the best college on campus regardless of who wins the shoe. Of course I always enjoyed hanging out at Porter’s Pub as well.

Q: What book did you last read (or are currently reading) and who is your favorite author?
“The President's Brain is Missing” by John Scalzi is 30 pages and I got it on an application from my phone. It takes a seemingly bizarre idea and really puts in the pieces to make it plausible, then offers a great twist at the end. It really reminds me of something by Chuck Palahniuk who is probably one of my favorite authors.

I like when assumptions must be changed quickly and any good planning starts relying on instincts or ideas you can think of on the spot. It’s important to always be prepared but it’s exciting to find a new angle.

When I was younger, Roald Dahl had so much rhythm and sound with his writing that when you relax it seems like you can hear how Oompa Loompas would sing, but other times you just have to skip past the song and say so long to Violet. Enjoying reading, just like life, it takes patience.

It is great to know UCSD is Dr. Seuss approved because as a kid he was by far one of the great foundations for my imagination and an inspiration in education. Even while working in restoration it was a strange realization to see how clearly some of his creations in illustrations had elements of the local environment. Dr. Seuss is probably one of the best examples of loving your environment and community.

Q: What is your “X Factor” – the key trait or quality that has helped you to succeed in your career and/or life?
Keep a practical imagination because success begins where your ego ends. Follow your strengths, but acknowledge your weaknesses and take the time to improve.

Q: What do you know now, that you wish you knew then?
Trying my best means listening instead of waiting for my turn to speak, managing my life closely and enjoying time with family and friends.

On the same planet people can lead nations and armies while others do not have time for a shower. Develop priorities and be punctual.

Everyone has the right to speak and by listening you can find common ground and enjoy more out of conversations.

Procrastinating is selfish and makes it seem impossible to accomplish anything.

Q: Do you give back to UC San Diego? If so, how and why (time, talent or treasure)?
I was the keynote speaker for the 2012 Environmental Systems Symposium and Alumni Reunion. In addition to guest lecture opportunities, it is always a pleasure to share resources, provide student internships in most undergraduate fields throughout the campus and spend time with students, professors, alumni, faculty and community members. By building a better relationship through a stronger network we can develop a forum to discuss new ideas, innovations and policies that help everyone. 


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